Armory: Empyrean Realms

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Armory: Empyrean Realms
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Armory: Empyrean Realms
Melodic Power Metal
Metavania Music
November 12th, 2013
Release length: 50:20
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The Armory up on the chopping block today is that of the Townsend, Massachusetts Power Metal six-piece. The group formed back in 2001, and consists of members from a couple diverse groups such as guitarist Chad Fisher and bassist Tom Preziosi of Soul Remnants (the latter also with Forced Asphyxiation), as well as keyboardist Pete Rutcho from Crotalus, Graveheart, and of course Vomitron just to name a few. In 2004 they issued their first demo, The Dawn of Enlightenment, which was re-recorded in 2007 with two additional covers. For 2013, they find themselves with Metavania Music to issue their follow-up full-length, Empyrean Realms. Is this a pathway to some solid Power Metal, or is it a largely generic experience?

Empyrean Realms almost immediately comes off like something out of Stratovarius‘s playbook. “Eternal Mind” introduces a fantastic atmosphere without dragging straight into the days of the renaissance. The blistering introduction shows plenty of promise thanks to the solid falsetto and blistering drums, the latter of which make up the chorus to give it a little more impact. Outside the bass-driven main verses, the main structure of the song focuses heavily on the melodic aspect, sinking in with rich, memorable hooks and keyboard performances that ultimately end up duelling during the minute long set of solos about half way in. “Inner Sanctum” isn’t quite as fast, but it does have a Progressive Rock edge that helps the chugging chords sustain additional bite. At times you can also pick up on some operatic tendencies, such as how the keyboards work with the music about three-and-a-half minutes in, as well as some riffs that hit towards the end of the verse.

There’s also the many softer offerings scattered about that are far more cliche for the style, but aren’t bad or unenjoyable. “Dreamstate” sticks more to the traditional Power Metal formula, as if taking a toned down Sabaton recording and mixing it with some Progressive-heavy keyboards, especially in its solo where things get a little more astral. Then there’s the simplicity of “Reflection Divine” that gives the track a much grander presence in some spots. Some of the bridges, however, do find the keyboards offering some extra technicality to the mix that works, but isn’t really necessary. Finally there’s “Quest for the Fleece,” which mixes together some genre standard mid-tempo riffs and ballad foundations with an uplifting atmosphere. The majority comes off like early Rhapsody, but starts and ends akin to “Starfire” by Dragonforce.

While Empyrean Realms sounds like it wants to be epic, Armory shows a great deal of restraint in the performances that is both beneficial and detrimental. On one hand this safe approach works wonders in creating an often majestic world of fantasy without shoving cheesy stereotypes and unicorns down your throat to the point of nausea. On the other there’s nothing too remarkable about the album, and many tracks that push things a little more, such as “Eternal Mind” and even “Beyond the Horizon,” really leave you wanting the band to go a bit over-the-top to compliment an excellent build the band seems too scared to jump use as a diving board into something a little more unique. At the end of the day, Empyrean Realms isn’t the definition of Melodic Power Metal, but it does come pretty close. If you happen to enjoy the groups that fall into the style of music, then chances are you’ll walk away impressed enough to keep coming back for more on occasion with no regrets.

01. Eternal Mind – 5:25
02. Dreamstate – 5:21
03. Beyond the Horizon – 6:52
04. Reflection Divine – 5:29
05. Horologium – 4:01
06. Elements of Creation – 4:55
07. Inner Sanctum – 4:56
08. Fate Seeker – 6:21
09. Quest for the Fleece – 7:00
Initial Pressing Score: 7.5/10

Armory
Armory

Physical review copy of this release provided by Metavania Music.